Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask Parvati 17: Standing Your Ground, Part 4: Yoga, Ground, Rebound

PART FOUR: Yoga, Ground, Rebound


(Continued from: Witness, Release)


The practice of yoga has been one of my great teachers. Through various yogic techniques, I have been shown how to be more comfortable within my body, more present in the moment and more aware of how this sense of individual self is one within a greater whole.


Each yoga asana (pose) offers a precise and unique way to learn how energy flows through our body/being. Specifically designed to encourage the flow of vital, life-force energy in certain directions, yoga asana can teach us how to live rooted, vital and expansive, meeting what is with grace and ease.


As we allow ourselves to relax, our body settles into the ground and our vital energy naturally moves downward toward the Earth. If we are quietly watching at that time, we begin to realize that there is an equally strong presence that meets and supports us, rising up under our feet, moving energy upward and into our body. It is as if when we ground, there is an energy rebound. I first came into contact with this concept thanks to wonderful yoga teaching of the late Esther Myers and her teacher Vanda Scaravelli. The insights they shared pointed to elements in what would later become my yogic expression, YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine.


For me, there are two zero points in yoga, one horizontal, one vertical. They are the foundations upon which other poses are build, points of reference we can consider as we move through more complex physical sequences. The horizontal zero point is called in Sanskrit savasana or corpse pose. It consists of lying on your back, feet about one foot apart and arms alongside the body.


The vertical zero point is called tadasana or the mountain pose. Let’s give it a try. Standing erect, feet hip width apart, which means you have the distance of one of your feet between your feet. Your knees are neither locked nor bent, simply relaxed. Let your navel move gently back towards the spine. The tailbone tilts slightly inward towards the front of your body so that it releases like a plumb line towards the Earth. Your eyes are fixed on a point in front of you, as the crown of the head broadens and floats gently upward towards the sky. Shoulders are relaxed.


Breathe in. Breathe out. Allow your awareness of your breath to deepen, allowing your breath to be natural, not forced. Notice what you feel in your body. Imagine that your spine is the central channel of energy that runs through your body/being. It connects the sky and the earth through you.


Scan your body. Where do you hold tension in your body? Where do you feel relaxed? Can you allow yourself to continue to open, to release, to feel a flow within a whole? Let your feet root and settle into the ground. Feel the energy move downward, towards the core of the Earth. Feel your feet.


Notice the crown of your head. Let it float, effortlessly, upward. Feel your connection to the cosmos, the whole. As your feet release into the ground, the Earth meets you and a wave of energy flows up through your body towards the crown of your head.


Allow the connection between your feet and your head become a whole, so that you are rooted in the awareness of your physical sensations, the energy the flows through your body and you are aware more globally of you sense of place within the whole. Feel within. Feel without. Feel the flow between the inner and the outer and let these become one.


Practice this when you are standing in line at the supermarket, at the bus stop. Whenever you are standing, you can practice finding your sacred ground. That way, the next time you feel you have to stand your ground, you will be rooted both within yourself and within the whole. You will feel your own sense of worth from your connection to the eternal cosmos, rather than willfully from your finite ego. You will see the temptation to react as a teaching from the divine, offering you lessons to deepen your awareness as the infinite being that you are.


May you dance in the infinite upon sacred ground.


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